Rough waters ahead for Chile’s new government
Chile faces economic uncertainty as global trade alliances are thrown into disarray. The new government in Santiago, led by free-market conservative Sebastian Pinera, has a weak position in the legislature. On top of the daunting challenge of diversifying Chile’s copper-based economy, President Pinera must deal with social unrest at home. This situation calls for first-rate leadership that ventures beyond routine governance.
Xi’s growing influence goes beyond constitutional changes
China’s National People’s Congress recently abolished term and age limits for the highest offices, including that of president. While the changes may not mean much for the workings of the Chinese party-state or the country’s development, they are part of a broader effort by President Xi Jinping to expand his influence and that of the Communist Party.
Russia’s and China’s quiet contest in Central Asia
While Russia focuses on its geopolitical objectives in Central Asia, China’s primarily interest is in the region’s mineral and energy resources. As recipients of Chinese investments and development aid, the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are seeking to leverage the two powers’ competition for their own benefit.
Trump’s trade war is poised for a Pyrrhic victory
The flip side of the Trump administration’s drive to reduce the U.S. foreign trade deficit is that it will leave the rest of the world with fewer dollars to finance its budget deficit. President Trump could cut spending drastically or persuade the Federal Reserve to buy more bonds, but neither seems likely. More probably, he will do nothing as domestic rates rise and the dollar strengthens – widening the trade deficit again.
Indonesia moves to assert its maritime interests between two oceans
Indonesia has adopted a maritime development strategy that calls for infrastructure buildup and exploitation of sea-based resources, including offshore oil and gas drilling. Logical as this strategy could be for an archipelagic state with huge development needs, it may easily put the politically cautious Jakarta on a collision course with Beijing.
How North Korea’s neighbors are quietly stepping up
The threat posed to international security by North Korea’s nuclear posturing will not be resolved in a flashy manner – neither by an American military strike at Pyongyang’s arsenal nor by Chinese economic pressure on its rogue ally. Instead, expect three Far East nations – China, Japan and South Korea – to quietly adopt a “managed crisis” approach, combining painstaking diplomacy with small-step measures to build stability.